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Willis Earl Beal

Acousmatic Sorcery (XL)

Reviewed by Luke Winkie, Fri., Oct. 12, 2012

ACL Music Fest Sunday Reviews

Willis Earl Beal

Acousmatic Sorcery (XL)

Chicago's Willis Earl Beal is a weirdo. A broken voice in a sprightly young body, he croaks over cobbled, DIY beats, yet sounds relentlessly old-fashioned. He was happy to live homeless, but he also went on X-Factor. It's a strange path to notoriety, but debut Acousmatic Sorcery arrives with a legacy. Appropriately, it's frustrating and intriguing in equal doses. When Beal's interested in writing songs, he can sound like a visionary. Fiery anthem "Take Me Away" pounds ear-scarring in the most rewarding of ways, while the barely-there ballad "Monotony" is among the tenderest moments of 2012. Then there's plenty of noisy antisocial experimentations ("Cosmic Queries," "Swing on Low") to keep us at arm's length. They're interesting in their Jandek-ian sprawl, but annoyingly absent of intimacy. Once Willis Earl Beal becomes comfortable with us, he'll probably start making better albums. (6:15pm, BMI stage)

**

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